Surely with all the talk about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, no savvy business owner ever reads snail mail. You remember that stuff that used to be printed on real paper – yeah, the stuff that is made from trees – and then stuck into an envelope, addressed, a stamp licked and stuck in the top right corner.
Hang on! Before I continue, let me clarify something. At Ugly Mug Marketing the vast majority of our revenue comes from building things that exist out in the world-wide-web. We are masters at generating leads and then converting those leads into sales, and often we do this by utilizing the latest Internet tools.
However, when we want BIG results, we often look to that old ancient world of print and direct mail marketing. Which in our modern, technologically advanced world, seems to be a thing of the ancient past.
The Meeting That Changed It
As of last fall, we had never promoted our organic search engine optimization services. You see, up until that point, only a couple of our clients even knew that we provided this service. We simply didn’t have the people in place to take on more than the two SEO clients we were currently working with.
As coincidence would have it, earlier in the year I connected with an old elementary school friend who happened to be getting amazing results working in the SEO field. After catching up on old times, I quickly discovered that he was approaching SEO from the same perspective that we were, all 100% organic methods. He was looking to pick up a little more work, and we decided he would be a good partner to help us expand our SEO services.
Now with the manpower in place, it was time for us to figure out how to let our clients know about this “new” service we would be offering. (I say “new” because remember at this point no more than a couple of our clients knew we offered organic SEO services.)
Why Choose Direct Mail Over the Internet
So how do we go about promoting this service to our clients? We had an unbelievable arsenal of tools to choose from to launch our SEO services, but our primary concern was which of the tools would provide us with the highest ROI.
Just like when we work with clients, we view ROI not only in terms of return on financial investment, but also in terms of the time investment that is required. As an entrepreneur, one of the most important things you can do is to assign an actual dollar amount to your time.
After weighing all of our options, we chose to use direct mail. Here are a few of the reasons we chose direct mail:
- Big Impact. Something physical, if it’s well thought out, will make it past the gatekeeper and straight to the key decision maker.
- Taken Seriously. We could have easily sent an email, and the chances are good that it would have been ignored. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have been read, but that our offer would have been placed on the back burner to be considered at a later time or date.
- Greater Control. We were only opening up three slots for this service, and if we sent the offer via email we couldn’t prevent them from forwarding the offer to their friends and colleagues.
Having settled on direct mail, the next step was to figure out what to say and what to send.
Creating a Direct Mail Campaign That Gets Opened. And Responses!
During the process of deciding what to send to these clients, there was one massively important direct mail marketing principle that kept running through our minds. This principle cannot be ignored if you’re serious about getting staggering results and amazing ROI.
But before the principle, I’m assuming here that you already understand the importance of knowing to whom you are marketing. Sounds obvious, right?! Well, it isn’t always as straightforward as you may think. To truly understand to whom you are marketing, you have to understand what motivates them, what their needs and wants are, how they make decisions, why they make decisions, how long it takes them to make decisions… I could go on and on about all the things you need to consider, but you get the point.
The Most Overlooked Question
Of all the questions you should know the answers to, one is overlooked more than any other. And that question is:
“What are your prospects currently thinking and talking about?”
If you’ve studied direct response marketing, I’m sure you’re familiar with what is often referred to as the Robert Collier Principle. Robert Collier was a brilliant writer and copywriter. If you haven’t read his book The Robert Collier Letter Book, I highly recommend grabbing a copy.
The Robert Collier Principle simply states, “Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.” Sounds simple, right? It is, and if his advice is followed the impact can be enormous. Yet so few entrepreneurs heed this sage advice.
Three Benefits of Entering the Conversation in Your Customer’s Mind
- Captures Attention. By using and pivoting off of topics in your customer’s mind, it forces them to pay attention. After all, they were just thinking, and likely talking, about this exact topic.
- Continues the Conversation. You don’t have to stop their train of thought and take them on an entirely different journey.
- Appears Relevant. This gives you the advantage of appearing relevant and interested in the same things they are interested in.
Practicing What We Preach
So with this principle in mind, we began carefully looking around at what was happening in the world, and particularly in the business world at this time. We were looking for clues as to what our ideal prospects may be thinking and talking about.
Each year Forbes puts out their list of The Forbes 400 and The Forbes Celebrity 100. These are the lists revealing the wealthiest 400 people in America, and the 100 most powerful celebrities in America.
In the business world a lot of conversations center around who is on the lists, and how they got there. We knew that although our market may not subscribe to Forbes, they would at least be familiar with both the Forbes 400 and the Forbes Celebrity 100, so we decided this would be a conversation we could join in.
Don’t Bore Them
Now, what do we send? What do we say?
Well, we knew what conversation we wanted to enter, and we knew what action we wanted people to take. We knew that our prospects would be talking about, or at least thinking and aware of, both of the Forbes lists, and we knew that we wanted to sell them our organic SEO services. Now it was time for the challenge of how to connect the two.
Here is the thought process and questions that we used to help connect the conversation and the action.
What are the core benefits of what you are offering?
For us, the core benefits were that we would help them make more money, by getting their message directly in front of more of their ideal prospects. This would also help prevent them from missing opportunities. Also, by sending more targeted traffic to their website, we would help them build a more loyal following online.
What are the things they want?
Our clients want a steady stream of qualified people coming to their websites. They want the opportunity to reach and influence more people with their products and services. And ultimately they want to reach their goals (whether financial or other) as a result.
Who, or what, from the conversation you’ve selected to enter, demonstrates (either positively or negatively) the things your clients want to achieve?
Originally we decided we would use Bill Gates (the number one person on the Forbes 400) to communicate a story that tied into our SEO services. However, we decided that for our ideal prospects Bill Gates had probably been used over and over in other stories and articles, and it would be a bit boring. So instead we decided to use….drum roll please… Justin Bieber. Which perfectly ties in with the next question.
How can you make it fascinating?
People are bored! Yes, even top-level executives like we were marketing to. That’s not to say they don’t have plenty of things on their plates. For executives it is actually the opposite; they have too much on their plates, so if your message is boring it will be ignored.
After spending some time pondering these questions, you should have a good idea as to which conversation you are going to enter as well as how you are going to enter it.
Warning: Don’t ignore your gut!
At some point while reading the info above, you had several campaign ideas pop into your mind, right? Okay, you know that idea you had that you dismissed? Yeah, the crazy one! The one you thought would be too “out there.” The one you thought wouldn’t be professional enough. More than likely that is the one you should pursue.
Pursue it even if you are marketing to a business. It is important to remember that businesses don’t make decisions. It is people at the businesses who make decisions. The business doesn’t and can’t make a decision. The business is an inanimate object. Never forget that there is a person behind every business decision, and people are bored and want to be entertained.
The next step in the process was to select our target audience. We have a large client base, and we didn’t want to promote our “new” services to all of them because we were only looking to add three new clients.
30 to 10
Using what was laid out above, we identified all of our clients that we truly believed would benefit from our organic SEO services. This provided us with a list of about 30 people.
My gut told me that 30 was too many to send the campaign to. I believed that we would have a great response rate, and therefore we would have to turn many of them away. So I decided that we would only send this campaign out to 10 clients.
So we had to dwindle the list down, but how? Who should be removed? The answer was simple. We ranked all 30 of these clients in order of their ability to afford our organic SEO services, which start at around $600 per month.
We did this based on two criteria: One, how much they had spent with us in the past; two, how much we estimated their annual revenue was each year.
This made the process easy. So with our 10 in hand, it was time to develop our campaign and determine exactly what to send them.
Figuring Out What To Mail
We knew that we were going to use Justin Bieber who was on the cover of Forbes. Our message was going to center around the idea that Justin can teach you how to grow your business.
Along with our sales letter (example below)we were going to mail them a copy of the Forbes issue with Justin on the cover, as a tie-in piece. But we wanted something with more of a WOW factor.
Many people get bogged down with this part of the process. With so many options available, how in the world do you determine what to send?
Simple! You want to send something you are certain will make it to the hands of the decision maker. We knew that just a copy of Forbes with our sales letter might not make it to their hands.
When figuring out what to send, it is important to think about the person you are mailing to. For us, we knew that all of our prospects had an assistant or secretary that screened their mail each day.
We knew we had to do something that would make it past their gatekeeper, and into their hands. Some of the ideas we considered for sending our sales letter were: overnight via FedEx, blind (meaning nothing that indicates who it is from) in a box, a gift with the letter inside the box, a certified letter requiring their signature.
We were certain that any of these options would make it past their gatekeeper, but that didn’t solve the next big problems that accompany direct mail -. getting past the trash can, and past the “to be read later” stack.
What if we could actually send Justin Bieber to their office; surely he would make it to the decision maker even if they really didn’t know who Justin was. But we were confident that someone in their office would have heard of him.
Unfortunately, Justin was busy with the release of his new album. And even if he hadn’t been busy I’m quite certain we couldn’t have afforded to have him personally deliver our sales letter to them.
So we did the next best thing -. we purchased life-sized cardboard cutouts of Justin.
The only problem with the life-sized cutout was that we couldn’t ship it assembled (at least not at a reasonable price). So we decided to hand-deliver them to our ten prospects.
Getting Past the Gatekeeper
We were confident that the Justin Bieber cutout would make it to the decision maker (after all, how often do they receive a life-sized cutout?). But the next challenge was ensuring the sales letter got read.
There were two things we did to help ensure this happened:
-We placed our sales letter in an envelope with the prospect’s name written in big bold letters, and then we taped it directly on the life-sized cutout.
-When delivering it to their offices, we didn’t offer any explanation or hang around so they could ask us questions.
Within 24 hours we had four responses expressing their sincere interest. And within 48 hours of delivering the cutout we had a total of six responses. If you’re keeping track, that is a 60% response rate.
Of the six who responded, four of them actually sent us a picture of themselves with their Justin Bieber cutout. The reason? Part of our sales letter offered them a discount for sending us a photo of them standing next to Justin.
Using scarcity as a motivator, we only offered three openings in our Organic SEO program. So, staying true to our word, we only accepted three of them as SEO clients. The others were placed on a waiting list.
From the three clients we accepted, their immediate contracts totaled just over $21,000.00. So, you’re probably wondering why the blog title says the $26,495.00 SEO Sales Letter Example, right? Well, one of these clients has already extended their contract for an additional six months, bringing the revenues from this campaign to over $26,495.00, and this will likely continue to increase, as the other clients renew their contracts.
The Second Mail Piece
We had actually developed a three-step sequence for this campaign. But with a 60% response rate within 48 hours, and all three spots taken, we weren’t too motivated to send out the next two parts of the sequence. Can you blame us?
However, we went ahead and mailed out the next piece one week later mostly for our own curiosity to see how many more would respond.
The next step was sending the four who hadn’t responded a copy of Justin Bieber’s newly released album, with an accompanying sales letter.
Of the four sent, we had one person respond, giving us a 25% response rate, and a 70% response rate for the campaign.
What Never Happened
Our original inspiration for the campaign was Justin on the cover of Forbes. Sending a sales letter along with a copy of Forbes was intended to be our final step in the campaign, and would have been used to tie the campaign together.
But honestly, we never sent the copy of Forbes -. and I never finished the third sales letter. We were busy getting our three new Organic SEO clients set up, and I simply didn’t have much motivation.
Sure, we could have possibly gotten one (maybe two) more responses. But with all three spots taken, and already a 70% response rate… we threw in the towel.
The Actual Letter?
Would you be interested in a copy of the actual sales letter that produced a 60% response rate, and over $26,000 in revenue?
If I were a savvy internet marketer, I would require you to opt-in to download a copy of the sales letter. But I guess I’m not very savvy, because the following link will let you download the actual letter:
(Megan says: Seriously – this is a sales letter example you don’t want to miss! Go ahead and download it!)
Conclusion and Warning
I can hear it now from the copywriting gurus, “Your headline sucks, you have a weak hook, and you didn’t use the triangulation method (or some other ridiculously named method) close.”
My response? Look at the results!
All too often, we as entrepreneurs get hung up on trying to make things perfect. So much so that we never take action on the things that could have the biggest impacts on our lives. My good friend and mentor Dirk Margheim says:
“Imperfect action triumphs over perfect inaction every single time.”
So if you’d like to be a critic of the sales letter, by all means go ahead. Or if you’d rather take what is there and adapt it to your own market, by all means go ahead; it’s yours for the swiping.
When carefully and thoughtfully executed, direct response marketing can yield some massive ROI for you. Don’t forget: it isn’t about your needs or desires; it’s about your prospect, and their needs and desires.
What about you? Have you run a campaign that was hugely successful? If so, leave a comment below and share a little about it.
Disclaimer: My results aren’t typical. I’m in no way telling you that you will make as much money, have the same response rate, or experience what I have experienced. I’m confident that if you devote time to learning, and then taking action, you will likely experience some failures. This is the way life works. No one is successful at 100% of what they attempt. But I believe those who ultimately succeed are those who learn how to fail, learn from their failure, and then try again.